Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Well Staged Coup in Heathsville, VA

From the ENS:

...Mahaffey said that (the Rev. Jeffrey) Cerar initially said at a congregational meeting late in 2003 that he would try to work within the framework of the Episcopal Church to make changes but that he would leave if he felt he could not continue in the church. He said at that meeting that if he left and if others joined him, they would not attempt to take over St. Stephen's property, she said.

In December 2003, Kirkpatrick said, a vestry survey showed that the majority of St. Stephen's members wanted to remain in the Episcopal Church.

However, Mahaffey recalled, the perceived failings of the Episcopal Church "became the topic of his sermons from that point forward. It did not matter what the liturgy was for any given Sunday or what the Gospel was, there was always a way to bring the topic around to that issue. We very often got the message that the Episcopal Church had sinned and needed to be repentant."

"It got to the point that our needs for pastoral oversight and ministry were not being met because of the single-minded focus on this issue. We were not hearing the Word and how that was applicable in our daily lives. I don't think we were being ministered to in all of our needs."

There was a "steady outgo of people who found this message intolerable," Kirkpatrick said, and a "steady influx" of people who approved of the leadership's position.

"Everyone down here knew that St. Stephen's was taking this stance," she said.

Mahaffey said the growing disaffection with the Episcopal Church "has been very well staged."

"I think it has been sold to the congregation," she said. "Three years of hearing it week after week after week"...
Yet another example of how our current unpleasantness has been primarily clergy driven. Unfortunately, I'm afraid Dave Walker has gotten it right once again.


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